How to design a custom t-shirt

by Basiel

A guide to design your own t-shirt

The design on your T-shirt is something people notice immediately. The style of T-shirts you wear become a part of your identity, which makes them the ultimate advertising opportunity for companies and brands.

Do you want to use custom T-shirts as a present for your loyal customers, to motivate your employees, or to sell to your community? In this article, we explain you where to start if you want to design custom T-shirts.

Printing techniques 

There are several options to decorate your T-shirts; screen printing, digital printing, embroidery and many more. In this article, we will mostly talk about screen printing as this is the most common printing technique for T-shirts.

Screen printing is possible starting from 25 pieces (with most production partners) and is ideal for big quantities with a maximum of 12 colors.

However, we recommend starting with a higher amount (50 for example) so you can have your own labels on your custom T-shirts.

Labeling allows your T-shirt to be truly unique on the market, so if you want to create extra value for your customers and your brand, labeling is the way to go!

A couple of checks for your production partner:

  • Does your supplier provide premium quality products and printing?
  • Does your supplier provide ethical produced clothing (fairwear label)?
  • Does your supplier provide ecological garments (organic cotton or other biological fabric)?
  • Does your supplier have a long term vision for a customer relationship?
  • Does your supplier display knowledge and expertise on multiple fronts?
  • Does your supplier provide you the perfect service and knowhow?

    Now there are 3 more questions you need to ask yourself in order to get started.
  • What type of T-shirts do you want?
  • What designs do you want?
  • How are you going to sell your products?

What type of t-shirts do you want? 

First you have to decide what products you want. There are many different T-shirt styles and colors, such as loose or tight fits, plain colors, heather colors…

What designs do you want? 

Then it’s time to start thinking about the design you want. If you already have a design, it’s important to deliver it in a vector format. It’s also important to keep in mind that if you have a certain font for your design, that it might not be free to use.

Whether it’s a very simple and minimalistic design or a very graphical design, there are still some factors you have to watch out for:

  • Watch out for the size of your design, your design will look different depending on the size of the T-shirt.
  • The amount of colors of your design will influence the costs.
  • Your print has to be minimum 2 cm of the seam.
  • A design or logo on the sleeve of the T-shirt can only have a size of maximum 3-4 cm.


T-shirts on a clothing rack


Heavier textiles are not more qualitative

How are you going to sell your products? 

There are many ways to sell your products, whether it’s through e-commerce, a pop-up store, in physical clothing stores… It all depends on your story, your brand, your target group and what you are trying to achieve with your clothing.

Now that we've told you a bit more about screen printing, you might be interested in other decoration techniques for clothing.


Topics:Decoration techniques

About Merchandise Essentials

In 2015 Merchandise Essentials consisted out of two young guys with big dreams. Working out of their parents’ living room they started turning those dreams into goals.

The living room became a 600m2 office space with a showroom. The two man team turned into a workforce of more than 30 young and talented individuals who are now designing and producing merchandise for brands and businesses in 43 countries.


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